The exuberant summer celebrations on square KR8 were filling the Grand Master's heart with joy but, at the same time, he was worried. He felt that there would soon be an accumulation of outwardly logical but inwardly absurd forces in the center of the board, that he would hear again the cacophony and there would be the smell of cheap disinfectant, as in those horrible faraway halls in the left wing of the building.
"One thing I'd like to know," G.O. suddenly said. "Why is it that all top chess players happen to be Jewish?"
"All?" the Grand Master said. "Take me, for instance, I'm not Jewish."
"Is that so?" G.O. said with surprise. "But please don't imagine I meant anything. I just said it, like that. I have absolutely no prejudice in these matters. I was just curious."
"And you, for instance," the Grand Master said, "you're not Jewish either, are you?"
"Ah, but I'm nowhere near in that league," G.O. said, and again plunged into his secret plans.
If I move here, he'll move there, G.O. thought; if I take this piece, he'll take the one over there in a couple of moves; then I'll counter like this, and he'll answer in that way.... But anyway, what's the difference? In the end I'll break him, finish him off. I don't care whether he's a grand master, or a ringmaster, or what—I've got more guts than he has. Besides, I suspect that all their championships and tournaments are fixed. Whatever he does, I'll crush him, even if it means giving him a bloody nose.
"Yes, of course, in that exchange I lost in quality," G.O. told the Grand Master. "But never mind, there's still plenty of daylight left for me."
He started his attack through the center and, as the Grand Master expected, the center immediately became a field of senseless and terrifying activities. No love here, no tender meeting, no hope, no warm greeting, no life. It was feverish chills, and again yellow snow, the hardships that followed the war, itching all over the body. The black queen was cawing in the center, cawing like an enamored crow, crow's love, and nearby a neighbor was scratching a tin bowl with a knife. Nothing could prove so finally the senselessness of life as this position in the center of the chessboard. It was time to finish this game.
No, the Grand Master thought, there must still be something beyond this.... He put on a tape of Bach's piano concertos to calm his heart with the pure sounds, smooth like the splashing of waves. He stepped out of the summer-house and walked toward the sea. Pines rustled overhead and underfoot the slippery needles felt resilient.